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Patrick Hamilton, the first preacher of these opinions, had been burnt at St. Andrews. These were, however, but the first symptoms of life. It was not time for conviction: men were merely curious, and everywhere asked the reason of these things. This very contagious mood found expression in general comment; and at the village corners, and over the homely cakes
and ale in the Nanse Tinnocks* of those days, queer sly stories of dean and bishop, and biting rough jokes about priests and monks grew to be freely bandied about. Some of them Knox has preserved for us in the first pages of his History of the Reformation, that most unique bit of historical writing. Nothing in Lyndsay beats them for vivacity and humour, and here and there they have the biting edge of Burns' Holy Fair. As a contemporary description of Scotch manners before the Reformation, they are worth much; while as a witness to the truth of our poet's very strong statements on the condition of the clergy, and to the currency of well-in-Of formed gossip among the people on this subject, they are worth more and it is as such that I speak of them. On so serious a subject as the causes of a revolu
tion like the Reformation we cannot have enough of affirmative evidence.
Keeping in mind then what has been said above as to Lutheranism, we turn now to a Catholic's account of the Catholic Church of his day in Scotland. Thirty years before her memorable overthrow as the National Church in 1560, and hardly before the word "heresy " had been heard, Lyndsay had written his Dreme," and his "Complaynt to the King." In the first poem, a sort of abridged Divina Commedia, he supposes himself carried through space, and in the course of his journey visits "the lowest hell." The gathering there is motley; but it is significant that churchmen are the most numerous, and that every class of them is well represented! Thare saw we divers Papis, and Empriouris,... The men of Kirk, lay boundin into byngis; t Thare saw we mony cairfull Cardinall, And Archebischopis, in thair pontificall; Proude and perverst Prelatis, out of nummer. Priouris, Abbottis, and fals flatterand Frieris; To specify thame all, it wer ane cummer,
Regular Channonis, churle Monkis and Char-
Curious Clerkis, and Preistis Seculeris :
Rewland that rowt,* I sawe, in capis of bras, Symone Magus, and byschope Cayphas; Byschope Annas, and the treatour Judas, Machomete, that propheit poysonabyll, Chore, Dathan, and Abirone thare was; Heretykis we sawe innumerabyll.
It was ane sycht rycht wonderoug lamenQuhow that they lay into thay flammis fleityng tabyll, With cairfull cryes, girnying and greitying.
To people "the lowest hell" with the chief rulers of the Holy Church, and to place over them men like Simon Magus and Judas Iscariot, was a daring thing to do, a stroke of satire unequalled in audacity by any previous Scots writer. It is capped by plain speaking, however, which I shall slightly modernize for the sake of greater plainness.
Then I demanded Dame Remembrance
The cause of these Prelates punitioun ? She said: The cause of their unhappy chance Was covatyce, luste, and ambitioun; The which now makes them want fruitioun God - and here eternally must dwell Into this painful poisoned pit of Hell. Also, they did not instruct the ignorant, But servit worldly princes, insolent, Provoking them to penitence by preaching;
And were promoted, for their feigned fleeching; t
Not for their science, wisdom, nor their teaching;
By simony was their promotion,
Of these unhappy Prelates, imprudent:
Of Haly Kirkis patrimony and rent;
The second part, to sustain their estates; §
On cartis and dyce, on harlotrie and huris.
In their behalf, their subditis **
And compted not their God for till offend. Here we have the too often repeated catalogue of misdeeds and crimes which
Ruling that rout.
In worldly ways.
Except the spiritualitie.
everyone acquainted with Reformation For every lord as he thought best, history so well knows, "covatyce, luste, Brought in a bird to fill the nest. and ambitioun," and their numerous pro- They may not bear "the light of Christ's geny; here, let it be noticed, too, at the true gospel to be seen", they may be outset of Lyndsay's career as a poet; and 'spiritual' men, although they have long ere these words had become a popular" neuer seen the schule," they have purcry. The same points are handled by him posely set lords and barons by the ears for again and again: in all his best known their own ends; in short, there is hope for poems they are more or less touched every part of the common weal upon; but if with more fulness of treatment in some, with no greater plainness of speech in any. Time and travel did not In the year following he wrote a third modify a whit his opinions and his convic-poem, The Testament and Complaynt of the tions touching the state of the Church: he Papingo, more finished and artistic in form had seen so much of ecclesiastical life, than either of the two preceding ones, public and private, before he put pen on and more directly personal in its statepaper, that his first judgment was as sound ments. Putting his parable into the as his last one, his first charge in this poem mouth of a papingo, or popinjay, or in 1528, as distinct and incisive as his last parrot, after the manner of the poets of one in the last representation of The Sa- those days, he complains of the "covatyce, tire of the Three Estates, twenty-six years luste, and ambitioun" of the Church, in later. This historic consistency of his words as to the meaning of which there poems will appear as we proceed. cannot be a doubt. Conjured to declare the truth which she has heard by land or by sea concerning "us kirkmen," the poor creature, with some hesitation, complies. She begins with the opinion of "the commoun people." They have heard of "the good old times" when churchmen were indeed the ministers of God and the salt of the earth; when
In "The Complaynt to the King," written in the year following, occur many interesting passages, descriptive of Lyndsay's early connection with the King, and of the King with the Anguses. These are, occasionally even homely in their literalness, and might seem as if only meant for the eye of the writer's old pupil and playmate. No state or family papers, however, which I have seen, give a distincter idea of the miserable training of the young King; the high-handed tyranny of the Anguses; and the general lawlessness of the nation. Taken along with the two closing poems, "The Dreme," and "Ane Exhortatioun to the King's Grace," we have materials enough from which to draw a most sorry picture of Scotland under the minority of James V., and also a pretty sure prophecy of the character and reign of the future king. What Buchanan tells us of his wicked upbringing is abundantly supported by these, his tutor's own words; and what Knox says of the amours of his manhood is rendered more than probable by the same. Speaking of the general condition of the country, he charges the clergy with inordinate lust of authority and of being shamelessly worldly. Court and Session as well as Church they claim as the fit objects of their rule. Great evils are natural under
all minorities; but hardly was it possible
Some to their friends got benefices,
Doctrine and deid war both equivolent.
They see nothing of that state of things
No marvell is, thocht we religious men
Degenerit be, and in our lyfe confusit;
Gret plesour wer to heir ane Byschope preche,
One Abbot quhilk could weill his Convent
tyne my tyme, to wys quhilk wyll nocht be; † One Persoun flowing in phylosophie :
History of English Poetry, vol. iii. 149. If any of my readers think with Warton, let me recom mend to them a remarkable volume of American Essays, Lea's Studies in Church History. Sampson Low & Co, 1871.
† I lose my time, to wish what will not be.
which two opinions are impossible? Was he not merely rhyming words, spiteful words, in hope of pleasing his patron, King James V.? In answer to this as an histor
ical student, I can honestly say though
not without irritation that it still needs to be said that every word of Lyndsay is true; and that in Church muniments, in State papers, in family records and registhe various items of the dark catalogue "covatyce, luste, and ambitioun," are much too abundantly verified.
be accepted as an authority on this subject, is decisive on the point. "Of all the European Churches," he says, "there was, perhaps not one better prepared to receive the seed of the new gospel than that of Scotland. During a long course of years the highest dignities had, with few exceptions, been possessed by the illegitimate or younger sons of the most powerful families, men who, without learning or morality themselves, paid little attention to the learning or morality of their inferiors." Duly consider these words, my reader; let your mind dwell on them and give them shape, so as fully to comprehend all they mean You will have no need, if you do so, to give the rein either to conjecture or imagination to enable you to see a social state quite as bad as Lyndsay or Knox have described it.
Why should these things have to be reiterated over and over again? I am not aware of the existence of any satisfactory evidence of the falseness of these poems. There was some wrath over them in Lyndsay's generation, as there was over Burns' terrible satires in his; but there was no proof shown that they were baseless calumnies. The first edition of them appeared in 1538; in the next twenty years other three editions were printed. Now, who read them? Among which class did they circulate? It was not an age of books nor of reflection either; yet it is clear Lyndsay was bought, dear as he was, and there is no doubt he was read as the few popular books of those days were; as Tyndale's New Testament, for one, was, by a copy of it being circulated in a neighbourhood and read to groups of listeners,
War nocht the preaching of the Begging Fri-
Tynt war the faith among the Seculeris.
That may nocht use no pastime spirituall;
Thay have renuncit russat and raploch quhyte.ters,
Takand to thame skarlote and crammosie,
With minniver, martrik, grice and ryce gard, the able Catholic historian, who will
Thair lawe hartis exaltit ar so hie,
To see thair Papale pomp, it is ane pyne,
For now, be thay be weill cumin frome the scu-
Now these passages, of which there are many more, were surely very bold words for a Catholic to write of his Church, and were villainous if not true; but if Lyndsay was only versifying openly known facts, as Burns did in Holy Willie's Prayer and The Holy Fair, then, of course, there was no gainsaying his words. The sort of creature here drawn must have been very numerous at that time in all Christian countries, if we take the abundance of his portraits as a proof.* In what literature will you not find them? Lyndsay, like his fellow satirists, generally drew the likeness, and left it to tell its own tale. There was no lofty noble scorn, so ill at all times to brook; no assumption of deeply offended moralities; least of all, no "new opinions." "The Complaynt of the Papingo," therefore, was not chargeable with heresy. It was worse to bear with than heresy, but could not be so easily dealt with, nor so thoroughly stamped out.
Was Lyndsay's description of his Church true, however? Are these lines warranted by facts which are undeniable, and on
den Society): "As for the Abbot, we found nothing
* Here is one taken at random from a well-known by the way and round the fireside. book. Wright's Suppression of Monasteries (Cam- his poems had been rhyming gossip, like the chap books which were the delight of our forefathers, they would never have seen so many editions. But they were no rhyming nonsense. They were descriptions of the men and things of the hour, vivid and clear to every eye, and equal to the plainest comprehension, in which every
suspect as touching his lyving, but it was detected that he laye much in his granges; that he delighted much in playing at dice and cards, and therein spent much money; and in building for his pleas ure. He did not preach openly. Also that he converted divers farms into copy holds And it is confessed and proved that there was here such frequence of women coming and resorting to this
monastery as to no place more," p. 85.
one saw his own mind and experience, and | play are allowed an immunity denied to the spirit of the time reflected and ex- those spoken in the name of the writer; pressed, as no other man had expressed it. and bolder, because under this privilege he Their truth was felt at once, and like all could hit the heaviest blows, while it told such books, they became dear to the heart sooner upon the public. In two years, of the people. They were read to be en- therefore, after the spectacle given at St. joyed; they could not be denied. The Andrews, his famous Satire, the earliest bishop read them or heard them read or known attempt in Scotland at a Drama, quoted, to think mostly of Lyndsay's har- was played, for the first time, before the dihood in using such plain speech about Court at Linlithgow, during the Feast of things which he had no business, he Epiphany. It must have been a surprise thought, with; the bishop's cellarer to to most of the audience. In its form it is, wink or shrug his shoulders. The cour- as was to be expected, not much unlike the tier slyly chaffed his friends the Clergy Moralities of the time, the Vices and Virover the "wicked" exposure. The coun- tues, as usual, being represented; but in try folk in their remote peels and stead- its spirit and subject it is altogether unlike ings "considered" the matter. The best them. First of all, it could never have bits were read over and over again, and been meant for mere amusement. carried away in the memories of most; throughout pervaded by an earnest practiwhich nobody does with lies or slander. cal spirit, which expresses itself on the Scott was, therefore, only describing a chief evils in the land in a fearlessly free genuine trait of the old Scotch lowlander, way, and demands or counsels reform. All which originated in such ways, when he that he had written before on the condimade Andrew Fairservice, in "Rob Roy," tion of the Church and the Clergy, is told swear so stoutly by the wit of " Davie over again, with some additions; the misLyndsay," and snub young Osbaldiston's eries and oppression of the commons comattempts at poetry by the saucy remark, ing in for their full share of his notice. In that "twa lines o' Davie Lyndsay wald short, it is the sum of all his other satires, ding a' he ever clerkit." He was the pre- blow following blow in language which decessor of Burns in fame and popular could have been permitted only on one power.* supposition-its undeniable and half-acknowledged truth. Our astonishment is that, even in spite of this, it was permitted at all. Such plainness of speech to King and Bishop was a new thing in Scotland; and to this is due the following well-known incident, which has given a special historical interest to its first representation.
For the most decided proof of his influence as a popular poet, and for the fullest illustration of his power as a delineator of contemporary manners, we must look to the most remarkable of his writings "Ane pleasant Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis." This satire, unlike his other writings, is dramatic in form. Lyndsay, as Lyon King, was required to provide for the royal solace and entertainment as occasion called for it; and the plays and spectacles, the Miracle Plays and Moralities, then everywhere common in Christendom, were matters he had professionally much to do with. Lyndsay of Pitscottie tells us of his skill in devising one of these at St. Andrews, in 1538, in honour of the arrival of Mary of Guise, which had this special feature, that it ended with certain orations and exhortations to the Queen, instructing her to serve her God according to God's will and commandments." The success of this experiment probably decided Lyndsay in the adoption of the simple dramatic dialogue, as the most effective mode of expressing his matured views on men and manners. It was at once safer and bolder: safer because words spoken by a character in a
• For a capital illustration of this as regards Lyndsay's general influence, see Row's Historie of the Kirk, quoted in M'Crie's Knox, Note K.
James, unaware of what was coming, was apparently quite surprised; and although as the Gudeman o' Ballengeich, he was given to mix with his peasantry and commons on errands of his own, and so must have been pretty well acquainted with their customs, yet I dare say what he then heard as to his people and country altogether passed his belief. The version of the Satire was not the one we have; but it hit hard enough to sting, and to startle him out of his indecision. For immediately after it was over, we are told, he called upon the chief of his clergy, archbishop and bishops, and exhorted them "to reform their fashions and manners of living" threatening, "that unless they did so, he would send six of the proudest of them to his uncle of England!" The Cardinal, absent in France, on schemes of further aggrandisement, was not at hand to smoothe the sudden ruffle of the King or divert his attention; and while the fit was on him James
seemed bent on genuine reform. The This being done, we have the less ado; Englishman to whom we owe the story, What say you, sirs? This is my counsel lo!... was told that the King was minded to fol- A Bishop's office is to be a preacher, low Henry's example. We know better, | And of the law of God a public teacher, and see in this incident chiefly a proof of There should no man desire such dignities Lyndsay's power as a satirist. It was no trifle which so roused the easy, pleasureloving King of Scots, and shamed him into a momentary suspicion of his friends the bishops.
Without he be able for that office.
Friend, where find you that we should preachers
Look what St. Paul writes unto Timothy.
Now, sir, by him that our Lord Jesus sold,
From that time the "Satyre" was the great play of the country; and was at least twice acted during the regency of Mary of Guise. On these occasions it was played in the open field; and of the last one, which took place in 1554, we are told: "it was playit beside Edinburgh in the presence of the Quene Regent, a great part of the nobility, and an exceeding great Then before God, how can ye be excused? number of people, lasting from IX hours To have one office, and knows not how to use it. before noon till VI hours in the even." Wherefore were given you all the temporal wonders what gratification the Queen Relands gent could have found in Lyndsay's merciless exhibition of the wickedness of that Church to which she and all her family were so devoted; and that the impolicy of it, as a sure and powerful stimulus to the spread of the new opinions, was not evident to her. That it was a stimulus who can doubt? There was too much truth in it to allow of any just cavil; there was more than enough to quicken bitterness and slumbering dislike into hate, and to ripen thought into action. Think of what would be the burden of the gossip and the jests among the drinkers in the booths that day, and among the groups which thronged homewards that evening! Many and hard, we may be quite sure, were the words spoken of the Church; many sharp and shrewd things, which neither priest nor prelate would have cared to hear; and some prophecies of coming change too. If one of the nobles might venture to speak so, and in the presence of royalty and prelates, might not plain folk speak their mind, among their own at least, without fear? Gentle and simple read the signs of the times there and then, although they were of course in the dark as to when and whence the change would
And all their teinds ye have among your hands?
What if King David were living in these days,
And what else could come of such words as the following being again and again sounded in the ears of the multitude, and under the patronage of the Crown, Court, and Clergy? First, as to the Office of the Clergy.
My lords, there is one thing yet unproposed;
My Lord Bishop, I marvel how that ye
What be the cause of all the beresies
But the abusion of the Prelacies?
Second, as to the morals of the Clergy.
You are a Prince of Spiritualite;
My lords, when was there any Prelates wont